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Tips and tricks for parallel parking

A few years back a driver found internet fame (read: humiliation) when she repeatedly failed to parallel park her car. Video evidence. But mock as we might, this is not an uncommon problem.

What exactly is parallel parking?

Parallel parking is when you park beside a road in the same direction as traffic, usually in-between other cars. It is a challenging manoeuvre that many new drivers struggle with and some never master. But that will all change today!

Battles of the sexes!

Are men better than women at parking? Ah yes, that old chestnut! Whilst the resounding answer down the local might be “yes”, actual research suggests otherwise.

From surveillance of car parks up and down the country it was found that whilst women might take longer to park, they are more likely to leave their vehicles in the middle of the bay. As for finding spaces, accurately lining the car up and using the instructors preferred method of reversing into bays, women came out tops.

Men were found to be more skilled driving forwards into spaces, quicker at manoeuvring and more confident with less repositioning the car once in bay. The takeaway message? We could probably all do with a bit of help!

The method

To pick a popular method, we headed over to the Institute of Advanced Motorists to see what they had to say. Here is their tried and tested method:

1. Pull up next to the space you want to park in. Assess the length – is it big enough for your car? You should leave around 2ft at either end of your car.

2. Move forward slowly (very slowly!) and stop when the back of your car lines up with the back of the car in front of your space.

3. Turn your wheel left and begin to reverse. Use your rear review mirror to keep an eye on the car behind you.

4. When your car is close to the kerb and your car is clear of the car in front, turn your steering wheel to the right, which should pull the front of your car close to the kerb.

5. Straighten up by steering to the left.

6. Get out and bask in your glory! 

Extra tips

When it comes to parallel parking, there aren’t any ‘tips’ as such. It really boils down to this: follow the instructions to the letter and you will succeed. It is not a skill, more a precise manoeuvre that requires precise instructions!

Still having difficulty? Get yourself an automatic parking feature. For example, The Toyota Prius has a big computer screen that effectively guides you through the motions. It gives notifications of when to stop, when to reverse and when to slowly take your foot of the brake to get into the parking spot.

Still sounding a bit tricky? Check out Ford’s new ‘Active Park Assist’ system. The driver simply presses a button and the car guides itself into place. Equally parts freaky and impressive; check out one in action here


published: 17/07/2015 09:11:07

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